Can you believe it is already December 1st! If you are anything like me, you have been filling in December happenings for a few weeks on your calendar already. I looked at my Cozi app today and could feel the stress build. There is a lot on the to-do list and a pretty full calendar. How am I going to survive this month and have the peace inside that December is supposed to be about? So here are my tips for keeping December peace filled.
Prioritize the parties and events.
This is really hard when every 77 seconds we receive one more school flyer, Facebook invite, party announcement, and community billboard announcement. Don’t forget the December birthdays, class parties, traditional outings, and family gatherings!
I can seriously choose from approximately 5-10 events every weekend. So I have chosen the events that mean the most to me.
- Jesus is the reason for the season so I make sure to put our church Christmas event on the calendar immediately. It has always been Christmas Eve Eve (yes, the 23rd), look for lights after, and cocoa. This always warms my heart and the one year I didn’t do it, I felt empty.
- Schedule in family and tradtions! Cookie Baking Day, Christmas Eve and Day and sometimes the Day After. This year I am sharing my daughter’s holiday with her dad, so there is a bit more coordinating to do the family hop, but we are good co-parents and don’t argue about weekends, minutes, and hours spent with the other parent. Basically, if it is something she should be at or would desire if given the choice, we will work around it.
- I love Crossroads Village during December. It is a Genesee County gem! The train ride is adorable and the lights are fabulous. Santa is awesome and it feels so festive. There are so many dates and times to choose from that it isn’t hard to keep this tradition alive for Sweet V and me.
- I try to make it to the Jinglefest in town and enjoy the “Hallmark movie” parade and tree lighting moment. I put it on the calendar, but don’t stress if it doesn’t happen.
Everything else that I am invited to or find interest in gets weighed against how much downtime there is between events, attitudes, and budget. Don’t try to fit it all in, no matter how tempted you are. You need downtime.
Create space for down time.
Speaking of downtime…make sure you make space for this. It is important to sit home, watch holiday movies, listen to Christmas music, and simply abide in the hope that is the season. I need to snuggle. I need to watch Elf and White Christmas. I need to wear my slippers and sip coffee or cocoa and look at my tree twinkling in the dark. If my whole December is spent hopping from event to event and store to store, I am missing the point of the peace that Jesus brought to us.
Let traditions flex and flow.
There is a time for every purpose under heaven. Sometimes traditions need to shift or be let go to make room for traditions that are more fitting. Our family cookie day has been a tradition, but we have had years that we skipped as a group and I did my own small version with V at home. We used to all sleep under the tree at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve and do presents altogether on Christmas morning, but as we all had our own families, this became sooooooo much work that the spirit of the season got left out. So now we gather on the 26th. And sometimes traditions are more exciting when you do them every 2-3 years. As old traditions phase out, new ones take shape but we always try to keep Jesus at the center.
Do more than throw your change in the red bucket.
Find a way to give and make it a priority for your whole family to participate and truly focus time on it. There are so many organizations needing people to sponsor families, donate food, and give their time to serve. One of my favorite Christmas memories was of my whole family wearing ugly sweaters and singing through the aisles of Target while we piled gifts in our carts for kids on the Angel Tree. Sweet V was only 4, but she still talks about how she got to be an angel for Carter.
This year we are going shopping for our Adopt-a-Family program at school and we already shopped for our church’s Christmas store. I want her to feel the magic of Christmas morning, but more importantly, I want her heart to grow space for giving over receiving. It really feels like nothing else and when you put actual thought into it and not just throw a gift card in a pile at church, Christmas Spirit stays alive and can’t help but be passed on.
Change the “to-get” list into the “to-love” list.
It is so tempting to try to get our kiddos and loved ones the exact gifts they want and buy just one more thing for the kids. But as my mom always says, “How much is this going to sell for in the garage sale?”
Seriously, most of the things under the tree for our children do not get played with enough for the amount of money spent on them and time spent tracking them down. Most of America’s toy rooms (seriously, we have toy rooms in this country) are filled with toys that kids don’t take care of, play with, or need. The old adage, less is more, cannot be more true than when it comes to gifts for our kids at Christmas. And remember humans thrive on connecting to people and nature, not things.
By the time we are finished with the family hop, V is overwhelmed, over stimulated, over sugared, and over tired. She is mustering up every ounce of strength to show gratitude (which she hasn’t figured out in daily life yet) and I am just wondering where on earth all of this stuff is going!
We have done the certain amount per kid and the Want, Need, Wear, Read thing as well. But now it has morphed into about 4-5 gifts in our budget (from dad and I together) and a stocking. This year I want to take her skiing or snowboarding as a gift and make a memory of love.
So basically to keep peace in my life, I ordered a few gifts online, grabbed a few in store, and will be spending moments together making memories so she knows how much she is loved. That is something nothing under our tree will ever give her. Above everything, I want her to know this is a season of giving love to ourselves, each other, and those who may not feel love in their lives.
I don’t know what is on your December list and calendar, but I do hope that if you don’t do these things, that you find your own ways to embrace peace, comfort, and joy of the December season. We were made to love and be loved. And in our home, Jesus is the reason for the season.
Life is good. December is so great! Keep finding a way to make your house a love filled home.
High five for home.